\ˈbīt \
bit\ ˈbit \; bitten\ ˈbi-​tᵊn \ also bit; biting\ ˈbī-​tiŋ \

Definition of bite 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to seize especially with teeth or jaws so as to enter, grip, or wound was bitten by a dog

b : to wound, pierce, or sting especially with a fang or a proboscis getting bitten by mosquitoes a snake bit his leg

2 : to cut or pierce with or as if with an edged weapon bit by his sword

3 : to cause sharp pain or stinging discomfort to the sleet biting our faces

4 : to take hold of help the pliers bite the part

5 archaic : to take in : cheat

intransitive verb

1 : to bite or have the habit of biting something This cat bites.

2 of a weapon or tool : to cut, pierce, or take hold bites down on the part The anchor bites into the ocean floor.

3 : to cause irritation or smarting Her criticisms really bite.

4 : corrode

5a of fish : to take a bait The fish aren't biting today.

b : to respond so as to be caught (as by a trick)

c : to accept a suggestion or an offer offered them a deal but they wouldn't bite

6 : to take or maintain a firm hold The anchor didn't bite well.

7 : to produce a negative effect the recession began to bite

8 chiefly US slang, sometimes vulgar : to be objectionable or extremely bad in quality : stink, suck This song bites.

9 US slang : to imitate or copy (someone or something) especially without permission There are lots of rappers biting his style—but there's only one James Brown!Spin

bite off more than one can chew

: to undertake more than one can handle

bite one's tongue

: to hold back (as from a reluctance to offend) a remark one would like to make

bite the bullet

: to enter with resignation upon a difficult or distressing course of action

bite the dust

1 : to fall dead especially in battle

2a : to suffer humiliation or defeat

b : to come to an end

bite the hand that feeds one

: to injure a benefactor maliciously


plural bites

Definition of bite (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act of biting took a bite of the sandwich felt a bite at the end of the fishing line

b : the manner of biting especially, dentistry : occlusion sense 1b wore braces to correct her bite

2 : food: such as

a : the amount of food taken at a bite : morsel couldn't eat another bite

b : a small amount of food : snack have a bite to eat

3 archaic

a : cheat, trick

b : sharper

4 : a wound made by biting The bite became infected.

5 : the hold or grip by which friction (see friction sense 1b) is created or purchase (see purchase entry 2 sense 3b(1)) is obtained

6 : a surface that creates friction or is brought into contact with another for the purpose of obtaining a hold

7a : a keen incisive quality a writing style that lacks bite a satirical bite

b : a sharp penetrating effect The soup has a peppery bite. the bite of the wind on our cheeks

8 etching : a single exposure of an etcher's plate to the corrosive action of acid

9 : an amount (as of money) taken usually in one operation for one purpose : share a 15 percent bite for his manager

10 : sound bite a 10-second news bite

11 : an expression of interest in something being offered In seven previous days, the seller didn't get a single bite [=no one expressed interest in buying what was offered].— Jerry Garrett et al.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from bite


biter \ ˈbī-​tər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for bite

Synonyms: Verb

smell, stink, suck [slang]

Synonyms: Noun

acerbity, acidity, acidness, acridity, acridness, acrimoniousness, acrimony, acuteness, asperity, bitterness, edge, harshness, keenness, poignance, poignancy, pungency, roughness, sharpness, tartness

Antonyms: Verb

rock [slang], rule [slang]

Antonyms: Noun

mildness, softness

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of bite in a Sentence


The hamster bit the child. She bit the cookie in half. Some people bite their nails when they feel nervous. A wild animal may bite if it is frightened. The patient had been bitten by a poisonous snake. The mosquitoes are biting tonight. Are the fish biting today?


He ate the candy bar in three quick bites. She gave her lip a gentle bite. The fisherman felt a bite at the end of his line and reeled in a fish. My teenage daughter wears a special device at night to correct her bite. Don't scratch that mosquito bite.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Don’t forget that Mars is still retrograde until August 27, so take action in bite-sized chunks. Jodie Layne, Teen Vogue, "Lunar Eclipse 2018: What You Need to Know," 3 July 2018 For lunch, grab a local bite at The Beacon Restaurant. Jessi Walker, Marie Claire, "Weekend Travel Guide to Saint Lucia," 11 June 2018 Nothing Bundt Cakes offers a variety of sizes from bite-sized bundtlets to 8-inch tiered cakes. Bob Bong, Daily Southtown, "Comings & Goings: Nothing Bundt Cakes, McAlister's Deli expanding to Mokena," 29 May 2018 One is the bite-sized portion size; whenever possible, a ritual should be quick. Sigal Samuel, The Atlantic, "A Design Lab Is Making Rituals for Secular People," 7 May 2018 Cut onion, peppers and carrots into bite-sized pieces. Linda Giuca And Christopher Prosperi,, "Slow-Cooker Pork Recipe Lets You Enjoy Outdoors Then Enjoy Dinner," 7 May 2018 Adapted from Danler’s 2016 novel of the same name, the six-episode, three-hour first season of Starz’s new restaurant drama is a bite-sized introduction to the world of fine dining as seen through the eyes of a neophyte. Esther Zuckerman, HWD, "How Restaurant Drama Sweetbitter Got Its Exquisite Taste," 3 May 2018 At the bar: refreshers, new bites Joshua Wolter, previously of c.1880, is changing up the cocktail list, as well. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Reopening after break, Meraki marks new menu with a half-price night," 12 July 2018 One danger is Nipah virus, a disease that can be transmitted to humans by bats through bites, among other possibilities, said medical specialists who are not involved in treating the boys. New York Times, "Freed From Thai Cave, Boys May Still Face Health Problems," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bite.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of bite


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for bite


Middle English biten, going back to Old English bītan, going back to Germanic *bītan- (whence Old Saxon bītan "to bite, cut into," Old High German bīzan, Old Norse bíta, Gothic beitan), going back to Indo-European *bhei̯d- "split," whence also Latin findere "to split, cleave, divide" (from a derivative *bhi-n-d-), Sanskrit abhet "has split," bhinátti "(s/he) splits" and perhaps Greek pheídomai, pheidésthai "to spare, save, refrain from"


derivative of bite entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bite

Dictionary Entries near bite






bite back


Statistics for bite

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bite

The first known use of bite was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for bite



English Language Learners Definition of bite

 (Entry 1 of 2)

of a person or animal : to press down on or cut into (someone or something) with the teeth

of an insect or snake : to wound (someone) by pushing a stinger, fang, etc., into the skin

: to grab and hold something without slipping



English Language Learners Definition of bite (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of biting

: the way the upper and lower teeth come together

: the amount of food eaten with a bite


\ˈbīt \
bit\ ˈbit \; bitten\ ˈbi-​tᵊn \; biting\ ˈbī-​tiŋ \

Kids Definition of bite

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to seize, grip, or cut into with or as if with teeth bite an apple

2 : to wound or sting usually with a stinger or fang A mosquito bit me.

3 : to take a bait The fish are biting.



Kids Definition of bite (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of seizing or cutting into with the teeth three quick bites

2 : a wound made by biting : sting a mosquito bite

3 : the amount of food taken at a bite I just had a bite of dessert.

4 : a sharp or biting sensation The pepper has a bite.


\ˈbīt \
bit\ ˈbit \; bitten\ ˈbit-​ᵊn \ also bit; biting\ ˈbīt-​iŋ \

Medical Definition of bite 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to seize especially with teeth or jaws so as to enter, grip, or wound

2 : to wound, pierce, or sting especially with a fang or a proboscis

intransitive verb

: to bite or have the habit of biting something



Medical Definition of bite (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or manner of biting especially : occlusion sense 2a

2 : a wound made by biting

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on bite

What made you want to look up bite? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a private place of worship

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!